Cold Weather Emergencies

Steps in Staying Safe

In severe cold weather, there are steps you can take to keep yourself and your family safe and comfortable.

  • Be sure to have storm windows in place, as this will keep the wind from blowing through any unsealed areas in your windows.
  • Check on the elderly to ensure their health and well-being.
  • Check your furnace to obtain optimum usage and conserve energy.
  • Do not use space heaters as a single source of heat for your home. Be sure to read the operator's manual regarding their safe use.
  • Do not use your oven as a source of heat for your home. You may be overcome by carbon monoxide.
  • If you must travel in severe weather conditions, keep a first aid kit in your car; put some food, water, and a shovel in the trunk; and bring extra blankets in case of becoming stranded.
  • In severe cold, keep children indoors. They don't realize when they are experiencing frostbite.


Frostbite is the freezing and crystallization of the skin and/or the bodily tissues under the skin. Serious cases of frostbite actually kill and damage tissue to the extent that amputation must occur. Mild frostbite affects the outer skin layers and appears as blanching or whitening of the skin. Usually, these symptoms disappear as warming occurs, but the skin may appear red for several hours.

In severe cases, the frostbitten skin will appear waxy-looking with a white, grayish-yellow, or grayish-blue color. The affected part(s) will have no feeling (numbness) and blisters may be present. The tissue will feel frozen. This is a very serious condition. Other symptoms that indicate frostbite are swelling, itching, burning, and both mottled skin and deep pain as the area is warmed.

If you believe that you have frostbite, it is highly recommended that you immediately contact a medical professional.

For More Information

If you have any questions regarding cold weather emergencies, or if you have concerns which you would like to share, please contact the Fire Department at (708) 579-2338.